Thursday, April 3, 2008

Here At the End of All Things

Here are all the things we said over the course of this game:

- It's better that they miss the playoffs. They had a bad season and there's no reason for them to have a false sense of accomplishment after that.

- Even if they squeak in they're probably going to get pounded by Montreal or Pittsburgh in the first round and who needs that?

- Ryan Miller needs a long off-season in a major way. He's clearly exhausted. No matter how well the rest of the team plays he doesn't have it in him for a long playoff run.

- Almost all of these guys could use a nice long off-season after playing so deep for the last two years.

- Better to be eliminated in a game where we actually had a say in what happened than to be eliminated in a game that happens after the Sabres are done playing. I'd hate to sit through a Flyers game and then still be eliminated when it was over.

And while all of the above is true, it still sucks. I'm glad the playoff race has finally come to its bitter end. I will desperately miss Sabres hockey while its gone and can't believe it's almost over. I'm so annoyed with the team for being so inconsistent all year. I'm really pleased that they played hard until the final horn tonight. I hate these guys. I love these guys.

At the risk of sounding all pretentious, I've been thinking about a quote from Roger Angell for the last few days. He was writing about baseball but I think it's applicable here as well. I'll have more to say later, but for now I'm just going to end with it:

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

(Let's go Buff-a-lo.)


S.A.M. said...

WOW I reallllllllly dig that quote. It's brilliant and oh so true.

Here's one I found the other day that kinda fits too, though not as eloquently:

You are either into hockey, completely into it, or not. From that sense it is almost cult-like. It takes over your life and you look at things completely differently than those outside of the hockey universe. In fact, those looking in are often left wondering what exactly is wrong with those who are in it.
it came from a writer at Michigan Hockey Online.

I was proud of how they stuck with it tonight, even though it could still have been meaningless in the long run. There is much to be learned from the season, and now much time to do it. It happens. I still is sad but now there is at least an ending.. until next year when we get to believe again!

Anne M said...

Great quote. Quotes, actually.

Even the long hockey off-season isn't all that long, so there's some small consolation. Heather, I hope you'll keep posting about whatever strikes your fancy this summer--I know I can speak for both myself and Vanek's Hair when I say we enjoy your blog immensely and it often gives us things to talk about between ourselves. "Did you see what Heather said about ...".

Caitlin said...

Heather, I'm so sorry. I wish I had something more eloquent to say than that, but you summed it all up so nicely in this post.

Part of the reason why I have come to view the Sabres fondly instead of just another team in the league is mainly because of you and the great stuff you always have on Top Shelf and I'm looking forward to the next season for the Sabres.

It's upwards from here, right?

Heather B. said...

Sam, I really like that quote you posted too. I wish hockey was more popular sometimes but I do really kind of enjoy the cult-like quality to it.

Anne M, I'll be around. I don't know if it'll be an every day thing since there are no games and I'm (finally) going back to work in a couple of weeks and I don't know what I'll be talking about but I'll definitely be around!


Part of the reason why I have come to view the Sabres fondly instead of just another team in the league is mainly because of you and the great stuff you always have on Top Shelf and I'm looking forward to the next season for the Sabres.

I think that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Thank you so much. I feel exactly the same way about you and Patty where the Stars are concerned. (Don't tell Buffalo.)

It's upwards from here, right?


Teebz said...

In term of being the closest to James Earl Jones' speech at the end of Field of Dreams, Herb Brooks' speech in Miracle was fabulous.

"As I watched them out there, celebrating on the ice, I realized that Patti had been right. It was a lot more than a hockey game, not only for those who watched it, but for those who played in it. I've often been asked in the years since Lake Placid what was the best moment for me. Well, it was here - the sight of 20 young men of such differing backgrounds now standing as one. Young men willing to sacrifice so much of themselves all for an unknown. A few years later, the U.S. began using professional athletes at the Games - Dream Teams. I always found that term ironic because now that we have Dream Teams, we seldom ever get to dream. But on one weekend, as America and the world watched, a group of remarkable young men gave the nation what it needed most - a chance, for one night, not only to dream, but a chance, once again, to believe."

Buffalo battled every game, and, despite me calling the Barney Rubble Hairpieces at every opportunity, every single player played for the logo on the front of their jerseys this season when I caught them on TV. Buffalo is a young team, and they'll respond.

Good show, Sabres, and here's to next season!

Jennifer said...

This morning, I am still in shock and don't really know what to say. Even with the ups and downs, it's been a great season and I wouldn't trade being a Sabres fan for anything.

Heather, I've enjoyed reading your posts and also hope that you continue. You are so funny and insightful, oh mighty blogger.

08/09 WILL be the year of the SABRES!!!

Anonymous said...

- Almost all of these guys could use a nice long off-season after playing so deep for the last two years.

That's true. During one of his Power Play shows, Staffy mentioned that last summer he really only got two weeks to fully hang out and relax before he had to get back in the gym and start training for camp. You can't expect guys to recover from a physical 82+ game season in two weeks. These two extra months will really give the players time to chill out and come back re-focused.

On the plus side, at least some of the Sabres might get to play in the World Championships in May. So hockey won't be completely over for some of them.

ElmaGolf said...

Thanks Heather - I'll try to memorize that quote for the next "Get A Life" look I receive.

In a way though, I am pretty excited about just watching some playoff hockey without as tight an emotional attachment. I couldn't watch the finals last two years because of how we went out.

Now, I can watch at ease and just pull for the following:

- Rangers get swept by blowing late leads in four straight games on lost face-offs by Chris Drury.

- Danny Briere - well, missing the playoffs (I'm torn on that - would I rather eliminate Boston and their God-Awful style of play, or let Ottawa complete the collapse?)

- Campbell? - Staph infection would be best in my books.

- Please let Washington make it in just to appreciate Ovechkin. However, I think I'll puke if I hear anything more about the "great Washington faithful!" They interviewed Ovechkin after the game and asked if he had anything to say to the crowd of great fans. I would have paid his entire $100+ MM contract if he'd said "Yeah, where the hell have you all been the last 2 1/2 years?"

- And finally, I hope I hear that every Ottawa fan writes a letter to the NHL about the dangers of hits to the head. The hit to Alfredsson last night was "ivory snow" clean compared to Neil's, but I'll be checking out their talk radio to see about the whole "goose / gander" double standard.

Vanek's Hair said...

I need to rest this offseason too. I am disappointed that the it ends so soon. Though, I have been through non-playoff years before so I am sure I can manage. I even managed, somehow, in 2004 when the great Briere, Drury, Grier, McKee and Dumont could not get the Sabres into the playoffs.

I will miss my playoff tailgating parties downtown. I will miss the "Man Hug" with complete strangers after goals. I will miss the screaming people exiting the concourse, and the "Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep" to Lets Go Buffalo downtown. But its not all negative.

Pominville, Roy, Vanek, Stafford, Paille = Solid core going forward. Sekera and Weber look way ahead of their years. There will probably be a backup goaltender who is better than Thibault. Really, anyone would be even "Goalie Backup" from NHL 94 on Sega Genesis.

Get your rest boys, I expect much better next season.

Is it October yet?

ElmaGolf said...

Vanek's Hair - "I even managed, somehow, in 2004 when the great Briere, Drury, Grier, McKee and Dumont could not get the Sabres into the playoffs."

I don't think Jerry Sullivan wanted you to remember that. I sent a LOOOONG screed to The BuffNews & WGR on Sully's article on blown two goal leads (how "it's not an education, it's an indictment" and that teams with those leaders "didn't blow two goal leads, they came back from them.")

From Jerry's article, he leaves the impression that the current group of players could not "mature" into leadership roles (or that they should have by now). One may actually believe that the "gutsy players" he mentioned probably never had much "learning" experience blowing two-goal leads, or from having sub-par March performances while competing for a final playoff spot.

Certainly, a team that consisted of Drury, Briere, Campbell, McKee, Dumont (and even James Patrick) would NEVER have gone through such an EDUCATION as the current edition of Sabres are experiencing.

Except that, as a matter of fact, they did.

In 2003-2004, the Sabres were in an eerily similar situation to the 2007-08 Sabres. At the Trade Deadline, they were fighting for a final playoff spot and were on a pretty good stretch (9-1-1 from January 25 - February 20th). This put them 3 points behind 8th place Montreal. And then they added Mike Grier to the line-up.

With such great momentum, existing leaders such as Briere, Drury, McKee, & Dumont, AND the addition of Mike Grier - of course this group of veterans wouldn't allow an extended "letdown" at such a critical venture. However, from February 21st through March 18th, the Sabres went 4-6-3, dooming their chances to make the Playoffs.

But I digress from the Two-Goal discussion. This same "leader rich" team in 2003-04 managed to blow Two Goal leads in Regulation Eight (8) times, including two successive games during the critical March stretch (2-0 lead on 3/13 vs. Boston and a 5-2 lead AT HOME vs. Toronto on 3/15.) (And Yes - that is MORE than the 2007-08 Sabres). It may also be worth mentioning that this was "pre-Lockout" - leads were supposedly "easier to protect" in that era.

So, if "blowing two-goal leads is not an education, it's an indictment," what does this say about the players on that 2003-04 team??

Jerry talks about Drury, Briere, McKee, Grier, Dumont, and Campbell as if they were "born leaders" who never needed to get a "hard knock education". (BTW, Drury & Briere were in their 6th seasons that year).

So when Jerry mocks - "We're supposed to talk about how young they are, and how performing in this crucial battle for eighth place will serve them well in the future", my response is "Why Not? It seemed to work last time around."

alix said...

Heather, that quote was beautiful. And exactly what I needed to read, since we're in the same boat and all. And your actual post was lovely too. This season did not go nearly as well as I had hoped on the ice, but I will always remember it fondly because I happened to fall into hockey blogging, and "met" such awesome people like you. Go Sabres!

Heather B. said...

Anyone who wants to believe that the "gutsy" Brian Campbell showed up on the scene as the hockey player he is right now is partaking in some particularly blatant re-writing of history. Do they think we all just showed up and started watching yesterday?

alix, go Canucks! :-D

Mark B said...

I'm with elmagolf - I'm kind of looking forward to watching the playoffs and not having my blood pressure rise and my stomach do flip flops.

That being said, it still sucks.

ElmaGolf said...

"Do they think we all just showed up and started watching yesterday?"

Like I said before, either the Buff News Writers are:

A) Ignorant of the past
B) Blinded by their agendas
C) Fully aware of the past, but assume their readers are too stupid to think critically.

None of the answers are particularly good.

shelli said...

Great quotes! Thanks again, Heather, for enriching my remote-location Sabres-worshipping experience. Until I found your blog, I was pretty much in the dark.

Saturday is gonna be sad but the Sabres Alabama connection will be enjoying the last game of the season with a huge pile of wings. I hope we kick Boston's ASS!

My husband said that we should cheer for Nashville because we have good friends who are Preds fans. I don't think I can do it. Tootoo is too too annoying. Maybe I'll root for Minnesota just because I like their uniforms and have no feelings about them whatsoever.

Can anyone tell me what the odds are that Kotalik will be around next season? I know nothing about his contract. If he's leaving then I have to work on a new favorite. This could take up all of the off-season! Any suggestions?

Heather B. said...

Shelli, I was glad to find out there were Sabres fans in Alabama!

Kotalik is under contract for next season so he's going to be here unless he gets traded. And I kind of hope he does - sorry! If that happens, I'll gladly help you pick out a new favorite :-D

I don't want to say too much because I'm actually writing about who I'm cheering for in the playoffs and why right now but I'm with you on Nashville. Can't do it.

Jennifer said...

Last ditch effort, but what if "someone" reported to the NHL that all of the players for Philly, Washington & Boston were steriod users or ax murderers or something?